Panthers win girls basketball state championship in Yakima
The Washougal Panthers are on top of the Washington Class 2A girls basketball world.
“It’s amazing. I’m so grateful,” Beyonce Bea told ClarkCountyToday.com photographer Mike Schultz after the Panthers won the state title Saturday night. “I’m just so grateful and thankful. It’s a dream come true to end your season with a state championship.
Bea pretty much willed her team to victory with 30 points, 15 rebounds, and three blocked shots in a 49-40 overtime victory over East Valley of Spokane.
East Valley hit a 3-pointer with 3 seconds left in regulation to tie the game.
Then it was all Washougal in overtime.
Earlier Saturday, the King’s Way Christian Knights lost in the 1A boys basketball finals.
Washougal took to the court soon after and brought a title home from Yakima.
“I can’t even explain how happy and how proud of the team I am right now,” said Bea, who was voted the tournament MVP.
It takes a whole team to play defense, though, and Bea will be the first to say it was a group effort. The Panthers suffocated all three opponents this week in the Yakima Valley SunDome.
“The keys, definitely our defense and our rebounding,” Washougal coach Britney Knotts said. “Us being able to do what we do well. Defense kept us in it and pushed us ahead.”
Tied at 35 at the end of regulation, it was quickly 37-all in the overtime period. Then Washougal went on a 10-0 run, led by Bea, who scored 12 of her team’s 14 points in overtime.
“Unreal,” Knotts said of the first state championship in program history. “I am so extremely proud of this team and the perseverance they showed throughout the season and this game.”
Even an hour after the game, the Panthers were trying to take it all in.
“We’re just riding this high,” Knotts said. “What a way to end our unbelievable season.”
The Panthers won their last 16 games.
Washougal was seeded No. 7 by the WIAA’s RPI system and had to travel for a state regional seeding game against the No. 2 team. Yeah, that would be East Valley. The Panthers beat East Valley in Spokane to head straight to the quarterfinals in Yakima.
East Valley, meanwhile, had to win the round-of-12 game on Wednesday, then kept winning to set up the rematch with Washougal.
The Panthers were ready.
The Panthers proved it, beating the No. 2 team twice in eight days.
Skylar Bea grabbed six rebounds and also had a blocked shot and a steal for the Panthers.
Sammy Medoros had three steals.
“Sammy Mederos was the spark off the bench,” Knotts said. “She had energy. She was flying around on defense and creating havoc.”
Kiara Cross had two steals for that Washougal defense. It was Cross’ bucket with 15 seconds left that gave Washougal a three-point lead.
Of course, East Valley responded with that 3-pointer to tie.
“We had to move forward,” Knotts said of the talk in the huddle after regulation. “We had to regroup. We said, ‘Man, we love overtime. It gives you four more minutes on the court to break it open.’ And we did.”
Jaiden Bea scored five points, including a jumper in overtime to give Washougal a four-point advantage.
Beyonce Bea, the all-time leading scorer and rebounder at Washougal — she is the best player in program history — capped her career by going 9 for 14 in the state championship game. She also made 12 of 15 free throws.
Washougal gave Clark County two state champions. Earlier in the day, the Prairie Falcons won the Class 3A girls basketball title. In 2012, Skyview won the 4A girls title and Prairie won the 3A title on the same day.
Now it is Washougal’s turn for some Clark County history.
The Panthers also credit a team-bonding moment in Yakima for propelling them to victory. One of the team vans got stuck on ice in the parking lot. The entire team got out to push the van to stable ground so the team could get on its way to the dome to play.
“Since then, things have been clicking,” Knotts said.
When the coach arrived in the locker room after the win Saturday, she was asked to give a speech. Then her players drenched her in water.
“I’m just so proud, so happy,” Knotts said. “These memories last forever.”
Knotts said she will never forget that overtime period.
“They all decided, ‘We can’t lose. We can’t lose this.’ Heart of champions, those kids.”
Zillah 90, King’s Way Christian 68
Simply put, the King’s Way Christian Knights just ran out of energy.
Playing their fourth game in four days, the Knights kept up with Zillah for a half Saturday evening in the championship game of the Class 1A state boys basketball tournament. However, it was all Zillah in the second half.
Before getting into specifics of the WIAA title game in the Yakima Valley SunDome, King’s Way Christian fans can celebrate all that was accomplished in the past couple of weeks:
The Knights took home the second-place trophy, the best finish in program history.
The Knights went 19-9 and beat Trico League champion La Center once and took the Wildcats into overtime in another game.
The Knights won back-to-back elimination games, first in the state regional round, and then again on Wednesday in the round-of-12. Then the Knights won games on Thursday and Friday, too.
When it was over Saturday, King’s Way Christian coach Daven Harmeling said he told his players that the result of the game does not change the way he feels about them. He thanked them for their incredible run to the state finals.
Harmeling said late Friday night that he was a bit concerned about his team’s energy level coming into the finals. Zillah did not have to play Wednesday, and the Knights had to work so hard for Friday’s semifinal victory.
Harmeling was not too worried about the big picture. He said the Knights were just thrilled to be on this journey together, enjoying every step along the postseason bracket.
First or second place, what a season for the Knights.
For a half, there clearly was a chance at first place still.
It was 43-39 at the break.
Then Zillah outscored the Knights 24-7 in the third quarter.
Harmeling used a baseball analogy.
“They pitched a shutout and Zillah knocked it out of the park as far as their execution,” the coach said. “I don’t know who in the state would have beat them tonight. They were phenomenal.”
He said his team did run out of gas, a bit, but it was more mental. Zillah put on such a display in that third quarter that it crushed any hopes of a King’s Way comeback.
Harmeling thanked Columbia River and Prairie for non-league games, plus La Center for tough league games, that helped King’s Way Christian prepare for the playoff grind.
“The future is bright,” he said of his program.
Khalfani Cason scored 17 points to lead King’s Way Christian in the finals.
King’s 68, La Center 56
The La Center Wildcats had to settle for fifth place in the Class 1A state boys basketball tournament, falling to King’s on Saturday afternoon in Yakima.
Matt Bryant scored 18 points, and Hunter Ecklund added 18 for the Wildcats.
The season ended with back-to-back losses, but La Center reached the championship semifinals for the first time this century.